Product review: A portable computer for people that don't like laptops

I don't like laptops: the screen isn't big enough and is too low down to look at for long, the keyboard isn't ergonomic, the mouse pad is located in an awkward position instead of at the side and until a few years ago laptops were too weak for me.


I do like portability. I like having a small computer that I can easily take with me and... connect to a full size screen, keyboard and mouse.

The solution: Intel NUC D54250WYK. A small computer with a Core i5 processor, built in HD graphics, 4 USB 3.0 ports, Giga LAN and you can choose your own storage, RAM, WAN. Cost ~400-550 USD. Windows 7 score 6.9 for CPU (without overclocking) and 6.8 for GPU (2D and 3D without overclocking).

Why this one and not one of the competitors? This mini-computer has the best specs - it comes a brand new processor (CPU/GPU) with good specs, including  the best graphics specs (well, Intel does have a few better processors, but they don't come as an option in any existing mini-computer configuration).

What parts to choose?


For compatibility and to get the best performance, you'll want SO-DIMM DDR3L-1600 RAM (maximum supported clock rate) with an extended CAS latency of 9-9-9-24 (minimum available latency).

I chose Corsair CMSX16GX3M2B1600C9, because it was the cheapest available with these specs and consists of two 8GB DIMMS (16GB total) which is the maximum supported by the processor. Cost ~200 USD. Windows 7 score 7.5.

Internal Storage

Internally, you can fit a mSATA storage card into the computer. The largest SSD I found was Crucial CT480M500SSD3 which is officially 480GB and should be more enough for OS and all your installed programs. Cost ~300 USB. Windows 7 score 7.9.

Off-to-password-screen time 19sec. (Windows 7 SP1, after installing programs, pre firewall, anti-virus).

External Storage

I wanted to able to connect my existing 3.5" HDDs via either USB 3.0 to this computer or eSATA to my old computer, so I searched and found this solution which costs ~120 USD. I haven't received this yet, so no comments yet regarding how it works.


The computer comes with an additional PCIe mini card slot and two built in antennas. The only officially supported cards are made by Intel and the only one that supports the new 802.11ac standard is Intel Dual Band Wireless AC 7260. Cost ~25-30 USD.


Thanks to this not having a built in keyboard, I get to use my trusty old Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. Cost ~20-40 USD. This is the top choice for programmers.


Any mouse you have, I haven't decided on a specific one to recommend as of yet.

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